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Comprehensive plan? Not so fast, councilman says

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The Town Board work session on Tuesday. From left, Supervisor Gary Gerth, Councilman Jim Colligan and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams. Not shown, Councilmen Paul Shepherd and Albert Dickson.

AMBROSE CLANCY PHOTO The Town Board work session on Tuesday. From left, Supervisor Gary Gerth, Councilman Jim Colligan and Councilwoman Amber Brach-Williams. Not shown, Councilmen Paul Shepherd and Albert Dickson.

One Town Board member outlined specific goals at Tuesday’s work session to achieve in 2018 and his colleagues enthusiastically agreed — except for Councilman Paul Shepherd.

One of the goals Councilman Jim Colligan put forth was to update the town’s comprehensive plan, which was adopted by a Town Board resolution in 1994. A seven-month effort of discussion and research a decade ago produced an update to the plan, but the board rejected it, Mr. Colligan said.

A municipality’s comprehensive plan dictates policy on several fronts, including, development, land use, transportation and housing.

Mr. Shepherd, the last to speak on the suggested goals — which included developing a capital spending plan and helping set priorities for affordable housing — was cautious, especially on an update of the comprehensive plan.

“I did the best I could to stab that thing in the throat when it came around the first time,” Mr. Shepherd said. “I don’t now if the people of Shelter Island want their lives planned.”

He went on to describe residents as “a pretty rugged bunch of individuals” who don’t like “directions given to them.”

Mr. Shepherd did pledge that he “won’t spend my time with the feet in the aisle trying to trip you up,” but would do a “lot of listening.

Mr. Colligan said, “That’s an honest answer.’

In other business: A resolution will be proposed and most likely passed at the next board meeting to expand from five to seven members the Community Housing Board (CHB) — tasked to recommend plans to the Town Board for affordable housing programs. Mary-Faith Westervelt, CHB co-chairwoman, told the board that more professionals are needed, including someone with public relations skills to possibly direct an advertising campaign so residents can better understand the benefits affordable housing will bring to the Island.

The agreement forged between Shelter Island and Southold at the end of 2017 to employ a Southold engineer on a part-time basis has not been signed by Southold. Town Attorney Bob DeStefano Jr. said Southold officials informed him that they wanted a change in the contract to state that the fee arrangement for the engineer would be only for 2018 and would not carry over for future years.

“They said they were eager to push forward with this and want to get it resolved,” Mr. DeStefano said.

At the beginning of the work session, Supervisor Gary Gerth asked people to remain standing after the Pledge of Allegiance in honor of Barry Ryder, who passed away Monday. Mr. Gerth noted that town flags were at half staff in Mr. Ryder’s memory, and that he was “twice a citizen” because of his long service with the Fire Department, and that “we pay him honor for his outspending contributions.”

An obituary will be posted online and will be in the Reporter’s January 11 issue.

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